A China Bohannon Novel #4
Carol Wright Crigger
Five Star, May 2016
From the publisher—
Smart and sassy bookkeeper China Bohannon is a modern 1890s career woman who’d rather sleuth than type. China is in charge of the Doyle & Howe Detective Agency office on the day a fourteen-year-old girl shows up seeking the detectives’ help in a case of what she’s calling murder. Neva Sue O’Dell’s jockey brother has been killed during a race, the horse he was riding — the dead-on Derby favorite — lamed. Neva claims her mother and grandfather are involved, having been paid a lot of money to rig the race. Who paid them? Neva doesn’t know, but she wants China to find out and somehow bring those who harmed her brother to justice.
The Wild, Wild West was still a little in evidence in 1890’s Washington State and young women such as China Bohannon were supposed to be prim, proper and running a man’s household. That is most decidedly not the life she chose for herself once she decided to leave an untenable situation and working in her uncle Montgomery Howe’s private investigation firm is almost perfect. That “almost” would disappear if she could just convince her bosses that she really is capable of much more than bookkeeping. Fortunately, both her bosses are occasionally willing to let her try her hand at things so China and her beloved terrier, Nimble, are with Gratton Doyle one day at the racetrack looking for a con man (much more fun than sitting at her newfangled typewriting machine).
When they come upon a loud, angry confrontation involving their quarry, China lands literally in the middle of the fray and foils the miscreant’s escape. Unfortunately for our heroine, the times and society are not forgiving of women showing up in certain situations such as a police station in the company of a petty criminal but China refuses to bow to convention, as we might expect she would, and soon proves her worth to the firm that should have her name on the door.
Alas, China is stuck back at her desk the next day but she can hardly be blamed for taking on her own case when 14-year-old Neva O’Dell comes in looking for someone to find out why her jockey brother was killed. Neva has some harsh suspicions and it’s not long before she and China are embroiled in a lot more danger than they might have anticipated. Shockingly, when all seems to be resolved, the good ol’ boy network threatens to get in the way of justice until China is confronted by a wicked twist that just might end very badly for her.
The bibliographic information available on various retail sites as well as modifications in how the author’s name is shown make it a little difficult to read this series chronologically but there’s a very handy hint—all the titles involve a number:
One Foot on the Edge by C.K. Crigger
Two Feet Below by C. K. Crigger
Three Seconds to Thunder by C.K. Crigger
Four Furlongs by Carol Wright Crigger
The fifth book is tentatively titled Five Days, Five Dead and, while I don’t know when it will be released, I’m looking forward to it eagerly. China Bohannon is one of my very favorite historical sleuths and Ms. Crigger writes with a clear love of the western frontier leavened with a lot of quiet humor and a real knowledge of the period. I’ve read one of the earlier books but I’m driven now to get the others before the next one arrives.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2016.